John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    Is Amazon on its way to becoming America’s favorite grocer?

    The headline asked if Amazon was on its way to becoming America's "favorite" grocer. The answer is no. All things being equal post-pandemic, Amazon will continue to grow its share of the grocery business as a convenient source of goods. But "favorite" grocers cultivate loyal shoppers who prefer the personal touch. That is something that H-E-B, Wegmans, Costco and others do well.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Do sampled freebies drive loyalty?

    The study claims that free samples aim to attract new customers rather than entice existing customers to spend more. So what? A new customer is a new customer. Some will become loyal to a brand even without a coupon that is typically given with a free sample. Apply a cost-benefit analysis to sampling events.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Did Amazon Pantry outlive its usefulness?

    Amazon Pantry wasn't convenient and it wasn't simple. Consumers didn't like it. End of story.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2021

    Will Giant Food’s shelf labels with diversity call-outs drive sales?

    In theory, this is a noble idea that might spur sales of these labeled products. In practice, however, I see a potential a backlash by insensitive and offended shoppers who will not buy these products because of some misguided principles. Nevertheless, kudos to Giant Food.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2020

    Publix decides the time is right for an experiential, two-story concept

    I applaud the two-story concept by Publix. It may be the vanguard of the New Normal in store design in the post-COVID era. I have toured a few two-story supermarkets in Europe and the division of departments seems to work well. Shoppers take an escalator down and up.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2020

    Should c-stores go healthy for the sake of kids?

    Let's be practical. Many c-stores make their money selling beer, salty snacks and hot dogs. Eliminate them and the store goes out of business. The retailer with a conscience would offer a blended assortment with "healthier" options. Will that happen? Depends on where the store is located.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    Lidl and Tesco keep their Christmas spots ‘merry and bright’ for 2020

    Tesco is my winner. It strikes the right tone and message for this Christmas season. Lidl is okay for fanciful adults, but much better for children. Who is Lidl trying to reach? Kids?
  • Posted on: 12/11/2020

    How long will it be before robots replace humans in restaurants?

    People still like the personal touch when dealing with something personal like food in a restaurant. On a personal note, I would boycott any restaurant that had robot servers. But that's just me. Or is it?
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Can retailers get store brand growth back on track during the pandemic?

    Post-pandemic shopping will see consumers gradually revert back to their previous in-store behaviors, and that includes favoring superior store brands. Lack of availability has been a temporary issue with private label, but that will be resolved once we get back to normal.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2020

    Are CPG brands headed for a very merry Christmas?

    Consumers will not be traveling much during the holiday season. They will be staying home and cooking for family gatherings and guests. That bodes well for CPG sales. Savvy grocers will be prepared and well-stocked. If they have out-of-stocks, they have themselves to blame.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Oreo lovers gladly pay a higher price to customize their cookies

    We now pause from mulling over the latest COVID increases and the disputed election results for this Breaking News: Oreo Lovers can design their own cookies with a special online platform.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Are garages optimal delivery drop-off points?

    Amazon customers might allow access to their garages for deliveries if "porch piracy" has been a problem in their area. Otherwise, I don't see the attraction of this service which requires buying special equipment for access. On a personal note, frequent Amazon deliveries on our home's front stoop have never been a problem. No need for garage access.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2020

    Are grocers downplaying curbside pickup at their own expense?

    The decision on what to offer shoppers should be made on what shoppers prefer or want. What they want during COVID will change when the virus is vanquished. Time-pressures aside, my hunch is that most people will go back to their former shopping habits.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2020

    Should Trader Joe’s have gone public with COVID-19 rates?

    The real question is, why did Trader Joe's come forward with such an announcement? I imagine it could be, "Hey, look shoppers! We are fully transparent. Nothing to hide here." And I guess that is a good thing. But... Did Trader Joe's think it would be a competitive advantage? "Hey, look shoppers. We're transparent and the grocers nearby are not." Maybe. But that just creates suspicion in the minds of non-Trader Joe's shoppers. "Why isn't my store more transparent? Maybe I should shop at Trader Joe's."
  • Posted on: 11/03/2020

    Will Walmart’s decision to scrap robots have far-ranging effects?

    Not to be overlooked: The CEO had concerns about customers seeing robots roaming around the aisles. Anecdotally, I can report that nobody likes to see robots in stores doing the work formerly done by humans. Walmart's decision is the first domino to fall in the gradual decline of robot workers wherever these short-sighted tests are being conducted.

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